The Iowa Supreme Court has dismissed a defamation lawsuit by Republican State Senator Rick Bertrand of Sioux City against his 2010 Democratic opponent, Rick Mullin, and the Iowa Democratic Party.
The court voted 5-0 in their opinion released Friday morning basing much of their opinion on 1st amendment rights of free speech and failure to prove actual malice in Mullin’s campaign ad that misleadingly suggested Bertrand marketed dangerous drugs to children.
Jurors awarded Bertrand $231,000 in damages in 2012 after finding the ad was false and defamatory. It accused Bertrand of putting “his profits ahead of children’s health.”
Bertrand worked for a pharmaceutical company that faced FDA criticism for marketing a sleep drug to children, but was in a different division and never sold that drug.
Chief Justice Mark Cady says the ad’s false implication may have been negligence, but wasn’t a “reckless disregard for the truth.”
Bertrand says the decision really hurts the Iowa voters:
OC…..POLITICAL PROCESS. :17
Mullin released a statement saying in part that he is extremely grateful to the Iowa Supreme Court for giving him a fair hearing and taking the time to see through the false charges that were made against him in 2010.